Tag Archives: friends

A Momoir, Chapter 6: I’m Not Always Like You, Mom. But That’s Okay.

terms

My kids always roll their eyes but they know better than to squint them and call bullshttt when I tell my stories.  They know the truth: that I am a living, breathing product of the (legendary) Unsupervised Generation.  I drank in junior high school.  I hitchhiked.  I rode public transportation before friends taught me how to drive.  I smoked.  I cut class.  I snuck in.  I snuck out.  I pretty much did unscrupulous things every chance I got.

 

My mother knew none of this.

 

I also did my homework without being told, got myself to school (and work and EVERYwhere else) without help and filled out college applications without so much as a sniff of curiosity from my mother.  I likewise ate what was prepared, picked up after myself and made sure to disagree with her in my head or into my pillow rather than unleash a fate far worse than my imagination could ever muster.

 

Despite the lack of assistance (or Uber) it was not a hard life.  If I’m being completely honest, it was fondly enjoyable even (you don’t say) without the internet.  It seems my generation was adulting before there was even a trendy term for it and I don’t remember anyone ever complaining about it.  There were fun times (drinking age = 18 = #seriously) and scary moments (drinking age = 18 = #seriously) and there was no shortage of regrets or mistakes or lessons learned.

 

Oddly enough, I grew into a mom who knows where her children are most of the time.  Kind of a weird paradox, I know.

 

Every year around this time at the anniversary of her passing, my thoughts drift to my mom.  She’s been gone seven years now and while there are moments when it feels like cliched yesterday, there are other times when it feels like I’ve been flailing through motherhood lost and adrift without her for longer than I can remember.  I often think about how similar we are (apologies to my better half for the insufferable German stubbornness) but more telling is how different we became as moms.

 

I imagine most people try to improve upon their own histories.  I know I do.

 

My earliest memory of telling my mother I loved her was from a pay phone in the hallway of my freshmen dormitory.  As I grew older it bothered me more and more that it might have been the first time I ever said those words aloud.  It affected me so profoundly the term became my personal pillar of parenting.  I’ve raised four kids who have been hearing it – and saying it — their entire lives:  into their phones, over their shoulders and across my kitchen counter.

 

My mom was a woman of few words when I was a teenager.  A divorced mother raising three kids alone wasn’t exactly the norm back in the early 80s.   She had a lot going on and kept her business to herself (lord, she would loathe Facebook today).  She didn’t banter with my friends (cannot lie, she was a wee bit feared), she didn’t know any of my friends’ parents and she was barely civil to my boyfriends (alright, looking back, perhaps she may have been on to something).

 

When I went through a high school breakup the only way she knew about it was when she heard Phil Collins’ “Throwing it All Away” on a six-day loop through my bedroom wall.  I’ll never forget her coming into my doorway and warily whispering, “Please.  Play another song.”   That was it.  No sentimental mother-daughter moment or long car ride for ice cream.   Onward I went.

 

Conversely, I chat up my kids’ squads all the time (interesting aside: my mom never used hip terms like squad because she could’ve cared less about appearing hip.  Again, why be hip when you can terrify?).  My own home often bustles with kids and I can get a hold of every parent with a single tap.   Contrary as well, when any of my own litter experiences heartache I am at the ready.  My eagle eye and alert ear can detect the slightest change in demeanor, attitude or (sigh) hygiene and my maternal senses hurl into overdrive.  I am at once a bevy of constant communication and presence to my troubled teens.    It appears I have become the nurturing contradiction of my own adolescence.  This is entirely surprising to me because – again — I never felt slighted or deficient in my own adolescence.  I can’t even recall any friend ever confiding in her mom back then either.  That’s what girlfriends had each other for.

 

My siblings and I would kid my mom mercilessly about her earlier Teflon exterior.  She was a tough one for sure but man, oh man, did she mellow out as time went on.  It might’ve been her second husband, who arrived just in time to steady her, lessened her load of financial worry and loved her endlessly.  More likely it was the welcome stream of good fortune that befell her family the second half of her lifetime.  After a difficult decade or so, my mom’s life blossomed and happiness settled in to reveal her softer, fiercely funny side that was clearly dormant in my own youth.  She was able to witness her three kids all marry and create enjoyable lives for themselves.   She was showered with ten – TEN! – grandchildren, the joy of which infused her every thought and attention (alas, cue in the dejected and forlorn look of abandonment from said second husband, forever delegated to the 11th spot in her life).

I wish she was here to see them all now.

 

I especially long for her to see mine.

 

My oldest was a high school senior and putting us through the ringer at the time of her illness.  Whisper as we tried to shield her from our own distress, she knew.  She always knew.  I would give anything for her to see how he turned things around to shine so brightly.  She would be over the moon with pride at the impressive young man he’s become.

 

Long before she died my mother had already taught my daughter how to sew but her protégé had only just begun to display her innate talent.  In the time she’s been gone my creative gal has gone on to teach herself how to knit, then crochet, then paint, then create jewelry, then, just recently, open an online store.  Without question these two special ladies were kindred spirits of an enviable kind.  I know the magnitude of her granddaughter’s natural gift would fill my mom to her absolute core and I wish she could revel in it.

 

She would still get the biggest kick out of my second son, whose devilish grin as the tween she adored now radiates the stubbled face of a young man.  He captures every nuance of my mom’s own unassuming and affable personality and she would be tickled at their spitfire similarity.  Gawd, if she ever caught sight of him in his college dress blues she might never stop showing his picture around Long Island.

She’d probably favor my youngest the most, a mere little boy when she left us. There was never any harm helping out the baby, she believed, because from any vantage point all the others always seemed unfairly ahead of the pack (*writer shakes head, remembering childhood).  My littlest’s unrivaled charm would find her putty in the palm of his hand.  If she could see him now she’d gush at his every accolade, triumph in his every touchdown and sneakily slip him a twenty whenever they were alone.

 

I get jealous of my fortunate friends who still have time with their moms.  I really do.  I hate that my kids won’t see their Nanny’s eyes glistening at their weddings.  I hate that they don’t get to hear any more of her stories.  They wouldn’t dare roll an eye at hers.  I hate that she’s not here to teach them more.

 

But if I find myself on a lonely road, I know too well my friends will eventually find themselves on a difficult one.  Aging parents leave battle scars endured only by the strongest of daughters.  I hope my familiarity and understanding of this stage of adulting is a comfort to them, for I’ll be at the ready for all of them when they need me.

 

I miss my mom at some moment in every day.

 

As the years tick on without her I shall remain incredibly bemused at our similarities (sarcasm, anyone?) and increasingly content with our differences (ummmm, mea culpa, mom, for the bandwagon Facebook brags).  Something tells me she would be nothing but overjoyed at the perfect metamorphosis of the Mom she raised.

 

(Finally, for what it’s worth, here’s my maternal postscript to my kids:   Yeah.  Just because I did it doesn’t mean you can.  Remember, spidey senses.  I catch EVERYthing.  Wink.)

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

 

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

 

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

 

 

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

 

 

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

 

 

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

 

 

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

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Keeping a Running Tab On What Matters

candles

 

I love my birthday and if you’ve been around this site, you know I write about it pretty much every year.  Once every 365 days I make it a point to take a breather from reporting on the simultaneous brilliance and idiocy of my kids (Brag Alert: guess who made Honor Roll?!?  Right, the same kid who tried unclogging the toilet with a toilet BRUSH and snapped it in half, lodging that, too, into the pipes…) to focus on me.   Why not, right?  I don’t dwell on getting older and I don’t mind having to buy a monthly dose of brunette-in-a-box to keep everyone thinking I’m the sister of Dorian Grey.  Since a blog is like a real-time diary, I think it’s good for my kids to take a look every so often to see how cool their mom is.  So sure, with full aplomb I say yay me! once a year.

If I’m being 100% truthful, I’ve got a lot to knock on wood about.  My family is healthy, nobody’s got a parole officer yet and despite finding out I’m the same age as was Rue McClanahan when she started in The Golden Girls (Lord.  Now that was a moment), I feel good.   I feel smart, too, because I happen to surround myself with some pretty amazing friends.  Sure, it’s a magnificent thing (the whole you raise me up thing) but the downside of that is it’s really impossible to measure up much of the time.

We’re a tight-knit group We are blue collar bikers and white-collar workers and business owners and bartenders and nurses and everything else in between.  We are moms and dads, all with kids who are alternately perfect or colossal frickking asswipes, depending on the day.  We are beer drinkers.  We are patio and bar floor dancers (not Joe; he’s just a danger to super expensive equipment and sound systems, but he’s a super good time so we let him “dance”).  We are fiercely loyal.  Oddly enough (given the obscene amount of Coors Light and buffalo chicken dip) we are a collectively healthy crew.  We have marathoners among us.  And cross-fitters.  And spinners.  And (back pat) we are far from thirtysomethings.

So you see, we are a lot of super awesome and gigantically good things.

What we are not … is invulnerable to awful things happening out of the blue.

Some serious medical issues made their way into our tight circle since my last birthday and while not a direct hit to me personally – as we all know – the shock and awe of a horrible diagnosis for a close friend hits one’s core as if it had been.  So at the very least, this gateway to middle age has been an alarming wake-up call for my crew.

A couple of months ago I found myself at the start of Lent pondering the cliched what to give up dilemma.  I wrestled with the coffee and wine I didn’t want to live without for 40 days.  I felt selfish about that.  Then I thought about the dairy and the animal protein my doctor discourages.  I shuddered (thinking about bacon this time) and then felt selfish about that, too.

My thoughts wandered to my friends.  Right at that time we were all still reeling from the recent news of a massive heart attack that had befallen one of us.  Far more serious than we could ever fathom, we had found ourselves hearing the unimaginable phrase lucky to be alive for – absurdly — not even the first time.  This was the third time in a calendar year one of our healthy comrades was very seriously, very scarily out of commission.

I decided that rather than give up something, I would instead do something for Lent, something that would force me to stop taking my good health for granted.

So ever so quietly and without any Facebook fanfare, I started running.

Now, every person in the universe already knows that running is the most dreadful activity there is.  I’m here to report that – as a recipient of the 1978 Presidential Award in Physical Fitness for successfully running the 600 in the nationally prescribed time at Lenox Elementary School — probably the last time I ran, period —  this activity most  definitely, absolutely, positively STILL sucks just as much, all these years later.

 

But here’s the thing.  Within my tribe are a ridiculous number who run and (please sit down for this) they do it for fun.  While I was selfishly deliberating avoiding ice cream for a month, my good buddy was hauling around a portable defibrillator in case his heart stopped again.  Another love was being fitted for a post-mastectomy bra.  Both of these crazies would have given anything in the world to be running at that time. So for 40 days, as a private nod to them, I decided to at least try to do what they could not.  Remember me saying it is impossible to measure up to these people at times?  No lie there.

To keep myself from backing out of my Lenten promise, I registered for a 5k a month away.  That it was a town wide St. Patty’s Day fundraiser is, let’s just say, apropos.

The first time I went out I barely made it around the block.  I will spare you the details of the injured walrus I resembled but for certain the pain and fire inside my chest had me convinced I, too, might be needing a defibrillator.  I was awful.  And cumbersome.  And excruciatingly slow.  And yet …

… each day I went out and tried to run a little further than the day before.

Ever hear the expression easier said than done?  Yeah, there’s that. Popping out four babies?  Pfft.  Bring it.  This was the hardest thing I have ever attempted.

By Race Day it was a secret no more.  To the contrary it was a full-blown party (have I mentioned my group’s affinity for barley & hops?)  Some friends joined me at the starting gate; others waited at the finish line. I made myself a cute t-shirt, put on a rockin’ playlist and clocked my first 3.2 miles in my 51 years.

 

5k cover

 

It was amazing.  So was my tribe.

 

5k sign

 

5k group

 

Somewhere within this journey I got caught up in the milestones of running further and further.  Somewhere within this endorphin-laced insanity I also let my running friends talk me into joining them in another race:  a 26.2 marathon.  Unbelievably the words it’s only 4.3 miles lost their scope of science fiction so I next set a goal for hitting that a few weeks later.  It was hard to say no to a team that would be pretty damn special:  2 miracle friends – both lucky to be alive – would be running it, too.

5 days before my 52nd birthday I crossed that finish line, too.

 

26

 

A RACE

I enjoy and appreciate my birthday every year — seemingly more and more as the years fly by.  I think everyone should.  We are all spending more time than we’d ever like in hospitals and funeral homes.  Our parents are passing.  We’re worrying about our kids spreading their wings, or leaving or (worse) becoming adults.  Scouts honor:  the best part about getting older is finding out nothing really matters all that much.  It takes a while but we finally start to get it:  It’s not the end of the world if a kid flunks out of college, or has a baby before marriage or a spouse loses his job.

When we finally realize we’re all here temporarily it’s kinda sorta embarrassing looking back on all the hours we spent bitching about Little League playing time.

I have some pretty strong opinions on the pitfalls of middle age (most involve imploring Mariah Carey to stop – please – wearing lingerie in public) but hell, we’re all traveling that road.  The stress of aging is unavoidable.

I say give yourself – and your friends — a reason to celebrate.  Without or without sneakers.  But definitely with some beer.

(How do you like me now, kids?)  😉

group

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram. 

 

Missed the start of A Momoir?  Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here:   https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6:  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

 

 

Wait, Who You Calling Old?

mom jeans

Not gonna lie:  I’ve been known to be a little judgmental.  (It’s really just one of the many book titles I’m laying claim to in the innards of my brain:  “I’m Just Saying What You’re Really Thinking”)  So it’s  actually with great irony that I must report how very publicly I was personally  judged this weekend.

 

It came from a twenty-something waitress as she collected menus following my party’s drink and app order.  We asked about the live music scheduled for later in the evening.

 

She surveyed our table and suggested that we might want to leave before the band arrived.

 

Excuse me, what?

 

“Well….they’re a little……” her voice trailed off.

 

What, we pressed.  Loud?  Violent?  (I’m a big music fan but I draw the line at some of the stab-your-grandmother music that’s out there) What?

 

“Ummm,” she shrugged, “I just don’t think you’re gonna like them.”  She walked off.

 

Where’s Steve Martin when you need him:  Again,  excuuuuuse me?

 

Detecting a challenge, we scrapped our plans to move on to a different venue later on and instead got comfortable.  We claimed a pool table and kept the rounds coming.

 

When the band eventually began they opened up with a pretty awesome  Tom Petty song.  (Cue the confused looks at our table. Huh?)

 

For the next three or so hours they played great covers of everything from AC/DC to Van Morrison .  I lost track of how many times I lifted my beer to proudly declare “Ha, THIS is on my I-pod, too!” (it’s a Nano but, you know, whatever).

 

I kept thinking, that snotty waitress can kiss my Adele-sized ass.

 

Now, I’ll admit there might have been a few vibes that (maybe.  perhaps.  if you stretched) hinted we may not have been the hippest bunch.

 

Getting to the bar at 7:30 might’ve been the first red flag,  I get that.  Young people —  like vampires —  repel sunlight and bars before ten.  I know, I know, been there done that.  But I will boast that we were indeed asked to “kindly depart” after the bright fluorescent lights had been on for awhile at last call.  Not a proud mother-of-four moment (and certainly not the first fluorescents we’ve ever seen)  but hey, no one can deny our chutzpah.  It happens (so does taking the next day in its entirety to recover).

 

Also, there was one of us whose six-foot frame took out a speaker (and maybe a couple of bystanders) with a very animated fall on the dance floor (NOT ME).  Lacking the grace of Brian Boitano (funny, how these always seem to happen in slow-motion), okay, maybe that could’ve shined an aging spotlight on us.  (No one got hurt.  I think.  Maybe just their roadie?  I dunno…)

 

And (alright, alright) perhaps a mob of middle-agers hysterically fist-pumping on the dance floor was a bit telling..  Ah well.  Three fingers up to make a W:  What-ev-ah.

 

Maybe a final dead giveaway was how we interacted.  One thing that definitely set us apart from the youngsters around us as how we sat as a group and talked and laughed.  You know, TO EACH OTHER.  At one point, a group of four girls nearby all tapped away on cell phones at the same time.  Having fun, ladies?

We sure did.

Take THAT, kids.

Here’s an interesting end note.  Our waitress was arguably the worst restaurant worker in the history of food service.  Her lack of charm paled in comparison to her professional skills.  We had to hunt her down throughout the night, usually finding her sitting with friends chatting (I know, right?)  Yet we still tipped her well because we are a different generation that does the right thing.  (Not to mention that collectively we could put a sitcom into syndication with all the eyerolling actions of our own young-adult-spawn).  It makes us somewhat forgiving.

 

Yes.  That would be us:  forgiving, freakishly good dancing and not-quite-ready-for-early bird-food-specials fun mongers.      #We’llSleepWhenWe’reDead

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.